How To Overcome a Weight Loss Stall In Under a Week

How To Overcome a Weight Loss Stall In Under a Week

You’ve been working hard and losing weight at a steady clip, until one day it just stops… Your routine didn’t change, you’re still staying active and watching your portions, but the scale won’t budge! Sound familiar? A weight loss stall, or weight loss plateau, is one of the most common complaints of dieters. Thankfully, a few easy tricks can help you overcome this common roadblock and continue on your weight loss journey!

Here are five easy, doable tricks that will help you move past weight loss plateaus and keep losing:

1. Reassess Daily Goals

One of the most common reasons that people experience a weight loss stall is because their calorie goals stay the same despite significant weight loss. As your weight decreases, so do your energy needs. Therefore, it’s critical to adjust daily goals on a regular basis.

At the end of the day, the underlying goal of weight loss is to create an energy deficit by making sure that there are more calories going out than in. So, over time, you’ll need to either eat less or move more to keep burning more calories than you consume.

Bigger people, both heavier and taller, naturally use more calories because fat and muscle are active tissues that require constant feeding. As you get smaller you have less tissue to fuel, so your calorie needs decrease accordingly. Unfortunately, many people experience weight loss plateaus because they don’t adjust their daily calorie goals to accommodate this change.

The easiest way to make sure that your goals are appropriate for your current weight is to use a weight loss tracking app. Popular apps like MyFitnessPal or Lose It automatically adjust calorie goals based on your current weight, activity and goals. Many fitness trackers’ apps, such as Fitbit and Apple Health, perform similar calculations.

2. Write It Down

Speaking of tracking apps, one of the absolute best ways to get past a weight loss stall is to keep yourself accountable. At least for a couple of days, write everything down: food, drink, activity and sleep.

This will help you assess:

• Whether or not you’re truly meeting your current goals, and
• The health and sustainability of your current habits

As you get into a routine with weight loss, it’s natural to relax a little bit. This makes the process easier, but if you relax too much it can hider your progress. During your weight loss journey, and especially if you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, it’s good to check-in by tracking your calories and/or macros for a few days. Be meticulous and record everything that goes into your mouth as well as each minute of exercise. If you can, measure your portions to ensure that you’re tracking accurately.

This can be a tedious process, which is why most people abandon tracking after a few weeks or months, but it’s a useful tool to help you overcome a weight loss plateau. If you’re over- or under eating, or not drinking enough water, tracking should help you realize it. More, committing to a week of logging food and drink will keep you accountable and help you re-commit to healthy habits if you’ve strayed a bit from your goals.

Finally, if you track for a few days and realize that your diet is overly-strict or repetitive, or that you’re spending too many hours in the gym, it may help you reassess your habits. While these extreme behaviors undoubtedly produce weight loss in the short-term, they’re not sustainable long-term. As a result, some extreme dieters/exercisers hit a plateau when they realize they can’t cut anything else without being unhealthy. If you come to this realization while tracking, reevaluate your diet and exercise routines to see how you can incorporate variety and flexibility to achieve continued weight loss without jeopardizing your health.

3. Prioritize Sleep

Did you know that people who sleep less than six, or more than eight, hours per night are less likely to lose weight than people who sleep the recommended 6-8 hours per night? More, science shows that dieters who experienced sleep-deprivation for just two weeks lost more than 50% less fat than their well-rested counterparts, even when caloric intake and other factors remained equal.

In our crazy world, it’s easy to skimp on sleep. However, if you regularly proclaim, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” but can’t seem to drop those last 5 pounds, a lack of shut-eye may be to blame.

Sleep-deprivation also has more immediate consequences. Hormones that signal hunger and satiety are less precise when you’re tired, so you’re more likely to crave unhealthy comfort foods, and also to overeat those same foods. A lack of sleep can easily sabotage even the most dedicated dieter.
If you’re experiencing a weight loss stall and consistently tired, work on prioritizing sleep.

Aim for 6-8 hours per night by:

• Establishing a set bedtime and wake-up time
• Turning off electronics an hour before bed
• Taking a warm bath in the evening
• Avoiding caffeine after 2-3pm

4. Stay Hydrated

Almost any weight loss blog in the world will tell you that hydration is critical to weight loss, and there’s a reason: it’s true. If you’re struggling with a weight loss plateau, it pays take a hard look at your water intake and make sure that you’re staying properly hydrated.

In general, aim for 8-12 cups of water per day through both food and drink. However, you may need more liquid if you:

• Live in a warm climate, or if it’s summer
• Exercise intensely (or generally sweat a lot)
• Are bigger (taller or heavier) than average
• Are pregnant or breastfeeding
• Have some medical conditions or take certain medications

If you fall into one of these categories, talk to a medical professional about your more specific fluid needs. However, you can get a general idea by watching and listening to your body’s own cues. Your urine should be light yellow (not dark yellow or clear) and you should be drinking enough to avoid a feeling of thirst. If you achieve these two goals, your hydration level is probably just about right.

So, why is hydration so important? Drinking water fills you up, protects your kidneys, hydrates your skin and reduces false hunger pangs.

Both food and water fill your stomach, but water has zero calories. More, our bodies sometimes confuse thirst and hunger, so if you feel like you’re getting hungry too quickly or too often try drinking a couple of glasses of water. If you’re truly hungry, you’ll probably still feel hungry after the water and then you can grab a high-protein snack (like a handful of nuts, an apple and cheese, or half a turkey sandwich) to tide you over until the next meal.
Given this biological mix-up, it’s not surprising that hydration and weight status are related. Research shows that obese children consume less fluid that their normal-weight counterparts, and several studies suggest that drinking plenty of water helps dieters lose weight.

So, if you’re experiencing a weight loss stall and drinking water is a challenge for you, try:

• Carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day
• Setting hourly or daily hydration goals (e.g. one glass per hour while at work)
• Infusing your water with lemons, berries, mint or natural other flavors

Minimize beverages like juice, soda and sweet tea because these drinks contain unnecessary calories and sugar that hinder your weight loss efforts.

5. Switch Up Your Routine

Last but not least, try mixing up your routine. Our bodies can fall into a routine and stop responding to the same weight loss strategies over time. Thankfully, research suggests that switching up your caloric intake (calorie cycling) and doing different types of exercise (cross training) boosts both immediate and long-term results.

Calorie cycling is a dietary strategy that involves sticking to a low-calorie plan for most days, and then taking a few days to ‘refeed’. The most common intervals are 11 days of diet + 3 days of re-feeding, or 3 weeks of diet + 1 week of refeeding. It’s important to note that these ‘refeeding’ periods entail eating slightly more than normal (200-500 calories more), not bingeing and undoing all of your hard work from the previous weeks.

Others use a “rolling average” approach to calorie cycling. Instead of setting a specific, rigid calorie goal (e.g. 1350 calories per day), you aim to average-out at 1350 calories per day over the course of a week. This final approach is especially practical if you use a tracking app that averages intake for you.

All of these variations help you lose weight because the caloric variation keeps your metabolism active, and you feel less deprived if you can eat more on special occasions or when you’re feeling especially hungry. For this reason, some experts feel that calorie cycling is more effective than traditional, rigid calorie goals in achieving short- and long-term weight loss.

Cross-training is similarly effective in keeping your metabolism active. When you do the same exercise over and over, you become increasingly efficient and burn progressively fewer calories in the same amount of time. This is great if you’re an athlete in training, but not so great if you’re pushing to lose weight. To keep calorie burn high, mix-up your exercise routine. Pick cross-training activities that use different muscles and/or use the same muscles in different ways. For example, if you love to run, try incorporating swimming or upper-body weight training a couple of times per week to activate different muscle groups.

With these five tips, and a little patience, you’ll be past your weight loss stall in no time!

Have a questions or comment about weight loss stalls? Leave us a note in the comments section below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!


About the author:

Lizzy is a writer, health coach and regular contributor for When she’s not behind a computer, Lizzy loves yoga, live music and reading about the latest health & diet trends.